Former President Donald Trump called the Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians’ team name change a “disgrace” in a Friday statement.
“Can anybody believe that the Cleveland Indians, a storied and cherished baseball franchise since taking the name in 1915, are changing their name to the Guardians? Such a disgrace, and I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country,” Trump said.
The American League team has officially dropped its reference to Native Americans from its title and will be known as the Cleveland Guardians, the organization announced in a Friday video. The team planned to drop the name “Indians” from their name in 2020 following the replacement of their Chief Wahoo logo in 2018, after it had been branded as racist.
The former president argued that the removal and replacement of the team’s name and logo is “disrespectful” towards “Indians” and must anger the people of Cleveland. (RELATED: Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona Says ‘It’s Time To Move Forward’ On The Team’s Name)
“Wouldn’t it be an honor to have a team named the Cleveland Indians, and wouldn’t it be disrespectful to rip that name and logo off of those jerseys? The people of Cleveland cannot be thrilled and I, a FORMER baseball fan, cannot believe things such as this are happening,” he said. “A small group of people, with absolutely crazy ideas and policies, is forcing these changes to destroy our culture and heritage. At some point, the people will not take it anymore!”
INBOX: Trump is not a fan of Cleveland’s name change pic.twitter.com/q7oolJk1O8
— Christian Datoc (@TocRadio) July 23, 2021
An MV Digital Group conducted an informal survey in December 2020 on the public’s opinion regarding the Cleveland baseball team’s name change and found that 55% of respondents believe the name should remain versus 33% who favored the change, according to Cleveland.com.
A handful of Ohio Native Americans supported the name change, arguing that the team perpetuated stereotypes, according to WYKC Studios. Marjorie Villafane told the outlet she was inspired by activist Vernon Bellecourt, who was arrested for burning a three-foot effigy of Chief Wahoo.
“He [Bellecourt] said start a group and go after the team, the name and logo,” she said.
Sports teams have continuously pushed to remove Native American references from their teams, following the National Football League’s Washington Redskins renaming themselves the Washington Football Team on request from FedEx, the team sponsor in 2020.